BREAKING: Hester, Mongo, and Peppers are all arriving in Canton!

BREAKING: Hester, Mongo, and Peppers are all arriving in Canton!

Let’s not waste time on the introduction: What a day for the Chicago Bears!

A source said Wind CityThree former Bears will be announced tomorrow evening, Feb. 8, at the NFL Honors Program as members of the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bill Zimmerman said. Chicago Sun-TimesJason Lesser also reported the presence of the three bears.

Devin Hester He will be the first pure returnee to arrive in Canton, having been elected as a modern-day candidate in his third year of eligibility.

It will be joining him Julius Peppers, who spent four years with the Bears from 2010 to 2013, Hester’s final four seasons with the team. Best known for his time with the Panthers, the great Peppers was elected in his first year of eligibility.

Rounding out the Bears trio is Steve McMichaelElected by the Supreme Committee of the Hall. The three will be honored in Canton on August 3.

Jack Silverstein on We Bare Bears

Julius Peppers, 2010-2013

  • 3x Pro Bowl with Bears, 2010-2012
  • 2010: First Team All-Pro, fourth in Defensive Player of the Year
  • Award-winning free agent signing in 2010 to lead Lovie Smith’s roster revamp on its way to a division championship
  • In just four seasons in Chicago, his 37.5 sacks rank 15th in franchise history

We knew going into this year that the committee would elect at least one recipient, and the second best bet was to elect Julius Peppers on his first ballot. The No. 2 pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers was a star playmaker as soon as he stepped on the field with Carolina, displaying an uncanny combination of skill, athleticism, leadership, production, consistency and toughness.

One of the true signs of a Hall of Famer is how long you can make his case before any numbers are mentioned. Peppers was that way. His ability to make big plays on the defensive line was unparalleled. On the defensive end, where he spent most of his career, his speed and power helped him post ten double-digit seasons, the first in his first season and the last in his second-to-last season. He had the strength to move inside and play tackle, then spent his three seasons with the Packers playing off the line as a 3-4 OLB.

He had six takeaway returns of 40 yards or more, including a career-high 97-yard interception return in 2004. That’s the same number of returns of 40 yards as Brian Urlacher, who was faster and about 40 pounds lighter. Peppers’ athleticism and instinct allowed him to turn completed passes into batted balls, batted balls into interceptions, and short returns into long balls.

I remember one such play he made in 2010, his first year with the Bears, against his former teammates in Carolina. Peppers was on the left side of the line, circling the right tackle, who simply dropped down and threw his left shoulder at Peppers to try and throw him off balance. The Carolina quarterback shot a potential WR screen as Peppers leaned forward, but in the time it took Devin Hester to shift his weight on returning the ball, Peppers extended his left arm skyward to slam the ball high into the air. His momentum brought him to his knees but he never stopped tracking the ball, and he was able to dive forward to complete the interception.

With most defensive ends, that would have been a complete screen pass. With a few others, a batted ball and an incomplete pass. With Peppers, it was takeaway.

In 17 seasons, Peppers was a nine-time All-Pro, a six-time AP All Pro, and was an All-Decade in both the 2000s and 2010s. He is second all-time in forced fumbles with 52 and fifth in sacks with 159.5.

Steve McMichael, 1981-1993

  • 2x Pro Bowl: 1986, 1987
  • 2x First Team AP All Pro: 1985, 1987
  • At the time of his retirement, his 95 sacks were the most ever by a defensive tackle
  • He was named to three Bears Top 100 lists in the summer of 2019, with the Tribune (No. 18), Bears (No. 19) and Windy City Gridiron (No. 25) placing him in the top 25.
  • The sixth player from the 1985 Bears in Canton, joining Walter Payton (class of 1993), Mike Singletary (1998), Dan Hampton (2002), Richard Dent (2011), Jim Covert (2020)

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I’ve written a lot about Steve McMichael’s Hall of Fame case in 2022, so I don’t have much to say about him other than how grateful I am that this happened to him and he’s alive to know it and celebrate with his family.

My Mongo archives from 2022:

I also hope Bears fans realize that many of the top candidates are worthy and also struggle with age and illness, albeit not as glaring as ALS. Four days before the Hall announced its three big finalists, nine-time Pro Bowl and NFL champion Maxie Bogan died at the age of 85. Two weeks later, All-Decade DB Eddie Meador of the 1960s died at the age of 86.

Both Bogan and Meador were in the final 12 group of seniors. Had either of them been elected, he would not have lived to see this announcement, let alone the appointment.

While Bears fans can and should continue to try to land Jay Hilgenberg and Wilbur Marshall along with the great coach Clark Shaughnessy, we must all realize that the senior team is full of Hall-worthy players, many of whom are in their 70s or Larger. Of the 18 seniors elected in the past five classes, exactly half died before being elected, including Class of 2024 Art Powell.

When you see other fans pushing for their buddies, read about them, find out what made them great, and join the campaign. Congratulations to Mongo and his family!

Devin Hester, 2006-2013

  • 3x Pro Bowl: 2006, 2007, 2010
  • 3x AP 1st Team All Pro: 2006, 2007, 2010
  • 2x All Decade: 2000s (Penalty Return), 2000s (Kick Return)
  • Set or tie a Bears or NFL record for both of his NFL record 20 touchdowns on a return

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you think I’ve written too much about Mongo, surprise! Have you written much about Devin? I’ll have more to say later but I’ll just say for now that his appointment at all, let alone three years, is as historic and monumental as his career.

I’ll leave No. 23 with the last word, as of December 20, 2010, the day he passed Brian Mitchell for most kickoff return touchdowns and kick returns and tied Eric Metcalf for most kickoff return touchdowns:

“When I just got out of college, the coaches told me I was only going to be a kicker and kick returner. … I’m here today to say I’m a kicker and kick returner, but at the same time, I’m the best ever.”

Amen, goat. See you in Canton.

Jack M. Silverstein is a Chicago sports historian, Bears historian for the Windy City Gridiron, and Pro Football Hall of Fame analyst for the Not In the Hall of Fame committee. A contributor to PFHOF voter Clark Judge’s regular “Judge and Jury” series He is the author of The Six Rings: The Bulls, the City, and the Dynasty That Changed the Game. His newsletter, “A Shot on Ehlo,” brings readers inside the making of the book, with original interviews, research, and articles. Open an account nowAnd say hello @readjack.

Bill Zimmerman is deputy editor of the Windy City Gridiron and host of Bears Banter.

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